Despite unfavorable Western press, Turkey is still a hotspot for expats, retirees, and digital nomads. Here, you can live in a cosmopolitan city or on a sun-kissed beach at a lower rates than in neighboring countries. An enjoyable Mediterranean lifestyle is yours for less than $1000 per month.
Antalya, a gorgeous resort city, is an ideal example. The best things to do here are free or stunningly cheap. Beaches are all public, so lounging in the sun or swimming in the sea is free. Sitting in the historic Old Quarter to watch the boats float into the harbor while enjoying a Turkish coffee is 0.50 cents. Need a breakfast bagel? Less than $1. Maybe you are ready for lunch? $2.
It is sometimes challenging to comprehend the low cost of living in Turkey. This guide helps new expats interested in moving to Antalya envision the high quality of life a $1000 monthly budget affords them.
What is the cost of living in Turkey?
|Total Monthly Expense||$ 976|
|COST PER MONTH|
|Rent- Furnished Large 1 Bed, 1 Bath, Walkable to the Sea||500|
|Maid Service 1 day per week/4 hours per day||-|
|Water/Sewer/Garbage-INCLUDED Electric Only||INCLUDED|
|High Speed Internet||INCLUDED|
|Cell Phone- 4 GB Internet Per Month||5|
|Total Housing Expense||505|
|Home Cooked Meals 14 times per Week||140|
|Fast Food 5 times per Week||87|
|Casual Bistro Restaurant once per Month||17|
|Fine Dining Restaurant once per Month||25|
|Total Food Expense||269|
|1st run movie once per Month||4|
|Budget Night Out-3 beers at a local bar once per Week||35|
|Big Box Gym (Weights and Group Classes)||20|
|Public Transportation 3 Roundtrips a Week||11|
|Taxi 1X per Week||46|
|Total Transportation Expense||57|
|Travel Health Insurance||43|
|Health Care Expense||43|
|Haircut 10 times per Year||4|
|Personal Care Items- Shampoo, Soaps, Etc.||20|
|Household Items- Laundry Soap, Tools, Dishes, Etc.||20|
|Total Personal Care and Misc Expense||44|
|Exchange Rate to $1 USD to TRY (Turkish Lira)||7.53|
My budget is specifically for Antalya, but you'll find similar rates in any of the expat cities. Istanbul will be the most expensive. Expenses in the capital are only about 10% higher, but the value of what you get is lower. For example, $250 per month is the average price for a centrally located apartment in Antalya. The same $250 in Istanbul would require you to live in a less attractive neighborhood outside the city center.
Pandemic circumstances only allowed me to stay in the country for five weeks during the summer peak season. I relied more on my network of other expats and digital nomads to get an idea of "normal" costs.
How much money do you need to live in Turkey?
Budget comparison Turkey vs. Croatia, Bulgaria, Vietnam, and Colombia.
How do costs in Turkey compare to the United States?
Depending on your lifestyle, you can spend between $500 to $1,500 per month. If you are a geoarbitrage fan, you will love the consumer prices here. Moving here from the US can save you over 80% from a MCOL city like Portland, Oregon.
Expense Estimates: The Earth Awaits
What kind of lifestyle can I afford on $1000 per month?
Let's add some context to the $1000. Here are the average prices for a single person in a US city (Portland) compared to an "expensive" city in Turkey(Antalya).
The Top 4 major costs in the US are housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. These 4 expenses make up 68% of the average costs in larger cities.
Key Living Costs
Total Average Per Month
Save 65% on Monthly Expenses
Living in Turkey could save you almost $25,000+ per year. Now look closer at the standard of living a $1000 budget buys you.
Antalya Housing Costs
What is the cost of housing in Turkey?
Apartment rent is your biggest opportunity to spend less than I did. Similar to other Mediterranean tourist magnets, like Croatia or Greece, rents on the coast peak during the summer. Rates vary significantly between long-term vs. short-term. If you try to rent month-to-month during the summer, you can expect the average rent to potentially double. I paid $500 in July, but you can find a similar long-term lease for $200 to $350 fairly easily.
★ My apartment rent ($500) was double offseason rental rates, but I didn't mind paying the premium. I lived in a large 1-bedroom apartment in Kaleici (Old Quarter), about a 10-minute walk from the beach and 300 yards from Hadrian's Gate. My front windows overlooked a park with an afternoon sunset view of the mountains. All utilities, including electricity, were included.
★ Fully equipped with sofa, smart TV, air conditioner, a fast internet connection, and washing machine.
Cost of a studio apartment
For a centrally located studio or smaller 1-bedroom apartment, you can expect to pay about $250 for a short-term lease (Wi-Fi and utilities included). Even at this lower rate, you are still a short walk to the beach.
INSIDER TIP : Airbnb- Don't look at Airbnb to estimate real estate. Even with discounts, Airbnb's short-term rentals are still 2X the normal rates. Use Google translate on Sahibinden to view local apartment listings first. Check out Facebook groups as a secondary source: Properties For Rent and Sale in Antalya or Foreigners In Antalya
Is it expensive to eat in Turkey?
I only spent $250 per month here, but that number did not include any sit-down restaurants. Due to the pandemic, I didn't eat out but instead had Turkish food delivered daily. But quality food is so cheap here, even with a "normal" ratio of cook vs. eat out; the number would still only increase to $300ish.
Here is an example from average markets in the city center:
What are the average restaurant prices in Turkey?
Other Miscellaneous Costs
What does transportation cost in Antalya?
Public transportation system consists of a tram system and bus lines. As my apartment was directly on the light-rail line, I took the tram to almost anywhere I needed to go. For about $0.40 cents, you can jump on any tram or bus. The ticket is per ride, regardless of distance. Even the 40-minute tram to the Antalya airport is $0.40 cents.
Kaleici (Old Town) is very walkable, with several streets blocked off for pedestrian use. I only needed to jump on the bus a couple of times a week for my daily life. Otherwise, everything I needed, cafes, groceries, a major shopping mall, and a beach, was within walking distance.
Uber is not available. However, on almost every street corner is a yellow box. Press the button, and a taxi will pick you us in a few minutes. Taxis are inexpensive and will take you almost anywhere in the city for $4-$5.
INSIDER TIP : The cost of transportation inside the country is cheap. Flying from Antalya to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines is a $20 one-hour flight. Direct flights to Germany or the UK are $30 to $40 for a one-way ticket.
How much is Turkish health care?
My travel health insurance covers me while I'm in the country, but if I wanted to retire here, a Temporary Residence Permit requires purchasing Turkish Health Care.
There are several International Health Insurance companies doing business here, including Mapfre, AXA, and Allianz. Premiums for expats between 36 and 45 years old will be roughly $43/325 TRY per month. This insurance would cover 100% of an emergency, then 60% co-insurance for additional medical care.
INSIDER TIP : Turkish Healthcare-If your country has a reciprocity agreement with Turkey, your national health insurance fulfills the Turkish health insurance requirement for residency. No additional purchases are necessary.
As of 2020, those countries include: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Netherlands, North Cyprus, and Romania.
Will I have to pay taxes living in Turkey?
If you stay over 183 days in the country, you become a tax resident. If you are a digital nomad working here, any income you earn in-country is subject to income tax.
Get A Free Tax Consultation and $25 off your US Expat Tax return
What is Not Included In The $1,000 Budget? Taxes!
Turkey has a double taxation treaty with the United States. If you are a tax resident in here, you may be able to deduct the income tax paid to the US from the amount you owe . Speak with a tax accountant to confirm. Nomadic FIRE has partnered with Expat Tax Specialists offering a FREE 30-minute consultation.
Full Disclosure, this is an affiliate link. If you use the link, I earn a commission from the company at no additional cost to you. You get the benefit of $25 off your return and a FREE 30-minute consultation with a Tax Advisor.
How much does it cost to move to Turkey?
Are you from the EU? Lucky you. European Union citizens can enter visa-exempt for 90 days.
US Citizens get no love and need a visa to enter. They even increased the fee. I paid $50, plus a $1.50 Service Fee for an eVisa.
Other nationalities can use the Turkish eVisa website. to check eligibility
INSIDER TIP : The country is in NATO, but not part of the European Union or Schengen. Being outside the Schengen zone makes the country a great way to refresh your 90-day Schengen allowance with flights from the EU for under $40.
Key Takeaway: Is Antalya good value for the money?
Antalya is the cheapest city I've lived in with the best value for the money. Average prices are inline with renowned low-cost cities, Medellin or Da Nang, and the quality of life is fantastic. $1000 buys a comfortable life for most expats. Some cost of living calculators even find my $1000 budget on the high-end.
The Earth Awaits estimates a modest lifestyle at only $514. I'm not sure I could enjoy a budget that low. Yes, you could reduce easily reduce housing by signing a longer lease. Also, my cost of food always trends high, as I enjoy eating out, so there could be additional savings in the dining budget.
Overall, my expenses are so low here; I don't mind spending $1000 because of the higher value I get for each dollar spent.